What Do Brampton Residents and Councillors Think About Cannabis Stores?
The issue regarding cannabis stores in Brampton is certain to become a major issue for the city come 2019.
Council recently voted to defer the issue to a special council meeting to be called by Mayor Patrick Brown no later than the second week of January, but not before a round of outreach and communications conducted by the city is to take place.
The deadline for cities to opt out of the cannabis store regime is January 22, 2019. If a city does not provide a response, they are automatically opted in.
Although most councillors did not express any clear opinion on how they felt about having cannabis stores operate in Brampton, some councillors have made their views known.Wards 7 and 8 city councillor Charmaine Williams has started up a website called 'Not in Our Hood' with an online petition for signers asking Brampton council to opt out of allowing cannabis retail stores, citing too many unknown factors.
"Residents will have little to no say on where they locate. There will be no limitation on the number of cannabis and marijuana stores that can open, and 150 to 200 marijuana shops is not the best way to reduce the exposure for young people in our neighbourhood. When it comes to marijuana stores in Brampton, we say “Not in Our Neighbourhood!", the petition says.
On the website, Williams has a statement on why she reached the conclusion she did:
"Legalization of recreational marijuana was suppose to reduce crime. If that is the case why are the federal and provincial governments offering us money for more policing? If kids can already buy marijuana at their high school as some people say, how is adding 150 more marijuana stores supposed to reduce their access?"
Williams also said $40 million is not enough as it has to be spread among 444 municipalities. Some residents have told me this is blood money," she said, adding that another resident told her that if he wanted to live in Amsterdam, he would have moved to Holland.
However other councillors, such as Wards 1 and 5's Paul Vicente, have expressed more acceptance of the issue.
"Cannabis is now legal, and to restrict it’s sale in Brampton would serve little purpose. Like alcohol, it should be sold in a safe and legal manner," Vicente said in an email to inbrampton.
A number of people have commented on this Brampton Reddit thread about their views toward cannabis stores.
One person said Williams was ignoring experts and that she was acting on a very biased personal agenda. "The professionals on our city staff have done a thorough investigation and they recommend cannabis stores. Then the experts at CAMH say that the only way to reduce harm is through regulated sale of cannabis. They cite their extensive research that shows prohibition just encourages the criminal black market which makes it easy for children to access cannabis."
"They say that the only way to significantly reduce the black market is through regulated sale as those sellers will not sell to children, the product they sell will be regulated to reduce contamination, and it will squeeze out the illegal black market reducing crime," said Reddit user shpydar.
Another user, realcdnvet, said "keeping stores out of Brampton wont keep weed out, it will only signal to the community that the city is against small businesses and doesn’t want the tax revenue from each store. Weed will be in Brampton as citizens drive to Halton, York, Mississauga or Toronto to buy pot. And remind her that the harder it is for citizens to access it legally, the more the black market will thrive."
One other concern over the timeline should be that it seems to be such a narrow window for the city to do outreach and communication on cannabis in Brampton, then almost immediately after go into a special council meeting where councillors have to vote on whether to allow cannabis stores or opt out.
Is that truly enough time to make such an important decision?